Elena Rybakina Calls For Changes To Tour Calendar Amid Welfare Concerns - UBITENNIS
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Elena Rybakina Calls For Changes To Tour Calendar Amid Welfare Concerns

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Former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina says players should be granted more freedom when it comes to choosing what tournaments they want to play. 

The world No.4 has become the latest player to speak out against the current structure of the WTA Tour, especially concerning WTA 1000 events such as Madrid which now takes place over two weeks instead of one. The WTA has previously said the increase along with the ATP ‘demonstrates a clearer alignment across both tours.’ Traditionally Indian Wells and Miami have taken place over two weeks but in recent times organisers have also implemented a longer format in Madrid and Rome. Then from next year, the same is expected to happen in Canada and Cincinnati. 

“I think these tournaments which became so long, it’s not very helpful, I would say, because if you’re fit, you’re fit, you’re going to play every day and the tournament finishes. But to stay in one place for almost two weeks, and it’s not like here you finish and you go rest. You go and you play another mandatory one. That’s definitely not making it easy.” Rybakina said following her quarter-final win over Yulia Putintseva. 

Elaborating further, the Kazakh said she would prefer the Tour calendar to go back to its original format. A view that is also shared by Caroline Garcia who criticised the two-week format following her third round loss in Madrid. 

“I think like it was before if we have two weeks’ tournament, Indian Wells, Miami, it’s fine, but to make these tournaments like Madrid and Rome also long, and then you have French Open, it’s kind of big events,” she continued.

Another concern raised by Rybakina is the rules regarding mandatory events. There are currently 10 WTA 1000 events on the calendar. According to the rulebook, players must play in those if they are accepted into the singles Main Draw at the Tournament’s entry deadline if they are fit to do so. 

“With the new rule of change, we have a lot of mandatory stuff where you cannot really choose and pick what you want to play,” she said.
“I mean, at some point it’s fair enough that people choose what they want to play or not, because if the tour is good for everyone, then people will want to play. But now we kind of in the opposite direction where we have to, because everyone is chasing ranking and everyone is chasing some points and so on. But if it would be open for everyone, then it’s kind of fair enough. You want to play, you play. If you don’t want to play, you don’t play.”
“So I think there is a lot to improve in the tour, and I spoke a lot last year. I honestly don’t have much energy to fight through and say my opinion anymore because it’s not that easy to change something.
“I feel like I’m wasting more energy trying to do something different or to talk with the people. I’m just following the rules and trying to do best out of what I have.”

Rybakina admits that if she had lost to Putintseva, she would have been happy as it would give her a small break before Rome begins. In that match, she came back from a set down and then saved two match points in the decider en route to winning. 

She will play Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals on Thursday. 

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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